Happy Self Love Sunday!
This week I asked a personal friend who actually happens to be a POPster as well to write for my blog. We’ve known each other nearly seven years now. From the day I met her I knew there was something special about her. Do you ever meet someone and right off the bat get a really good vibe? That’s Sarah. Although she is younger than me, I’ve always looked up to her. She is a truly beautiful soul.
Her story today totally made me sob with how much I can relate. I think many of us are fooled into thinking we’ve found self love through romantic affirmation, only to realize in the absence of that love we are a hopeless mess. Then who do we turn to? It can be difficult on our own. Sarah speaks of finding self love through her walk as a Christian and the rekindling of her relationship with God.
As a new Christian myself I find her story very encouraging, and I hope that my readers find it encouraging as well.
“My body is one of the many blessings that God has given me. I strive to cherish it and praise God for it.”
When Abbie asked me to write a post for her blog, I was honored. I couldn’t wait to share my thoughts on self-love. I only had one problem… what were my thoughts? I have probably rewritten this over a dozen times trying to find the perfect words to say to you. Finally, I think I was able to piece together my thoughts of my own views and “journey” to self-love. I have to preface this all with two notes first:
1) I am not a “self-love” expert. It has been a long time coming to get to where I am today, but there are still mornings where I wake up and it’s a STRUGGLE.
2) I am a Christian. I know that this might turn some people off immediately, but I encourage you to keep reading anyway. This fact has shaped me throughout my entire life and will continue to do so. It’s only natural that it will also shape what I have to share with you.
I grew up in church; it was practically my second home. I had always been taught to find my worth in God—I am His child and that should be my reassurance. Isn’t it funny how it’s easiest to forget, or possibly ignore, the things that have been taught to you all of your life? I know a lot of people pride themselves on being perfect, but I will be the first to admit that I’m far from it. As a Christian, I strive toward strengthening my relationship with God. I pray often, and I try to continually read His word; I try to remember to praise Him in all circumstances. I think my self-love today is deeply rooted in my relationship with Christ. But it wasn’t always like this.
Self-love has always been a struggle for me. Growing up, my raging insecurities and quirks swirled into a lethal cocktail that tainted my self-image and even some of my relationships. I spent most of my teen years believing that if I just found my Prince Charming, he would calm my fears and prove me wrong about myself.
From 2011 until 2014, I was in, what I can only describe as, a very immature relationship (I can say this now that I’m looking back on it…). During this time, I was in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in, I had great friendships, and a loving boyfriend. I thought all of my problems had been solved because I found someone who loved me for me and thought I was beautiful. I began to believe it too. It wasn’t until I was talking with my sister one night close to the end of the relationship that everything came crashing down. Curled up on the couch with my head in her lap, I couldn’t stop crying. And this all started just because she complimented me. She reminded me that I was loved and that I was someone to be proud of. Sure, my breakdown probably had a lot to do with the circumstances, but looking back, I can’t help but wonder if it stemmed from something deeper. If I had truly believed in my worth before, I shouldn’t have been so shocked by her words.
My relationship with God suffered so much during this time in my life. I was walking the perfect walk on the outside, but, on the inside, I was absolutely lost. I spent all of my energy on my relationship, not really caring about if I was honoring God at all. I stopped praying. I stopped reading. And I pretended that everything was okay. The time directly after the relationship was the exact same. When everything was over, I came upon the sudden realization that all of my “self-love” and security was fake. It was rooted in a person who wasn’t around anymore.
I’m a pretty dramatic person, I’ll freely admit that. So it’s safe to say that after the relationship was over, I was nearly convinced that I would never find love again (oh, to be young and heartbroken). I’ve been single for almost three years and I’m happy to report that I was wrong. I have come to find love all around: in the laughter of my friends late at night, in my family gathering around the island in my kitchen for deep conversations, in the look of pure joy that my niece gives me when I walk into the room, in my Lord and Savior, and in myself.
In the past three years, I can only give credit for my increase in self-love to God. Sure, I might not be as thin as I was three years ago, but I’m working on being healthy and strong, both physically and mentally. My view on self-love changed when my view of my own body changed. I spent so much time trying to love what was on the outside that I neglected my spirit. I didn’t value my body, but I realized that I didn’t value my soul even more. I started to pray again (more like rant to God while I was driving in my car). Why was I important? Why was I given the life I was given? Why did any of it matter when I considered myself worthless?
My answer pieced together one night when I was reading a book by Max Lucado. He wrote, “Do you feel a need for affirmation? Does your self-esteem need attention? You don’t need to drop names or show off. You need only pause at the base of the cross and be reminded of this: The Maker of the stars would rather die for you than live without you. And that is a fact.”
I whipped out of bed and grabbed my Bible; I couldn’t stop reading. The years I had deprived myself of reading God’s word caught up to me, and my eyes landed on verses that calmed all of my doubts.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalms 139: 14)
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
I frantically wrote on my mirror a reminder to myself: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am talented. I am enough. I am NOT a carbon copy. I am a daughter of God. It’ll be okay. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will be okay eventually.” I started to work on my heart rather than focus so much on my stomach being perfectly flat or having a thigh gap. I work out because I want to—because my body is a living temple for God. I put my make up on every morning because it is something that relaxes me, not because I feel forced to. My body is one of the many blessings that God has given me. I strive to cherish it and praise God for it. I have working legs and arms, a beating heart, and a healthy mind.
My self-love stems solely from God. If the Master of the universe, the one who created the stars in the sky and the pinecones on the ground, can look at me with love and find value in me, than why shouldn’t I be able to do the exact same?
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Thanks for reading!